Cold Damaged Palm Tree Care

cold damaged palm1 Cold Damaged Palm Tree Care

I get a lot of emails from palm tree owners, asking for advice on how to save cold-damaged palm trees. In my previous article, called Palm Tree Cold Protection, I’ve outlined few steps you can take to protect your palm trees before freezing temperatures are reached. Today, I will tell you, what you need do to save your cold-damaged palms.

The most important and the most vulnerable part of the palm tree is the bud. Bud is where new leaves emerge. If the bud tissue of the palm has NOT been severely damaged, the palm should recover and start producing new leaves during the following summer. New emerging leaves might be deformed, partially brown or have other abnormalities. It might take from 6 months to one year from the freeze for the palm tree to recover. If the bud tissue has been severely damaged, the palm might not survive.

Step 1: Determine level of injury

First, you need to determine the level of injury. To see how extensive the damage is, gently pull newly emerging spear. Sometimes, new spear is very loose and pulls out easily. Check to see if the bud is still alive. If it is green, the palm tree can be saved.

Step 2: Pruning

Next, prune only dead branches and remove all the dying leaves around the bud, so it can dry out. Don’t cut back leaves with brown tips, since palms still extracts nutrients for new leaves from dying fronds. Be careful not to over-prune. The more green leaves you remove, the less food the palm can produce. Pruning too many leaves will only add to the stress.

Step 3: Liquid Copper

Copper Fungicides Cold Damaged Palm Tree CareNow, we need to protect the palm from bacterial and fungi attack. Spray the palm with liquid Copper Fungicide. After the stress from the freeze, palm trees become more vulnerable to bacterial and fungal infections. Copper Fungicide has a unique formula that helps fight both. It should be applied no more than twice, 10 days between each application. Drench the bud of the palm with liquid copper using the force of the spray to clean it. This should reduce the chances of bud rot due to microorganisms.  Cold Damaged Palm Tree Care

Applying Copper Fungicide around the base of the palm will suppress development of the root diseases. One of the products I found to be very effective is Bonide Products Copper Fungicide. It works very well against fungi and bacterial.  Since it’s made from natural product you can use it for organic gardening.

Step 4: Fertilizing

Few words about fertilizing. Do NOT fertilize your palm trees right away, wait until late summer or fall. Most people start fertilizing as soon as they see brown leaves. Fertilizer is NOT plant food. Despite it saying “Palm Food” or “Plant Food” on the labels, fertilizer is a mixture of nutrients used to make soil more fertile and promote plant growth. Plants produce their own food, using water, carbon dioxide and solar energy. Think of the fertilizers as vitamin supplements. You can’t make a sick, diseased, malnourished person healthy with vitamins. When you start fertilizing your sick palm tree, you are asking it to start growing, which creates even more stress on the poor tree. Wait till late summer or spring and apply slow release fertilizer. For more fertilizing tips read my Fertilizing Palm Trees article.

Step 5:  Freeze Protection Spray

freeze protecting spray1 Cold Damaged Palm Tree CareIf there are more freezing days coming your way and you worry about palm trees getting even more damage, protect it by spraying it with Freeze Pruf. This amazing water-based, eco-safe spray enhances the plant’s natural mechanisms to resist freeze damage, shielding it from ice crystal damage, and increasing its ability to survive cold temperatures by reducing the freezing point of water inside the tissues of the plant.  Cold Damaged Palm Tree Care Cold Damaged Palm Tree Care

It actually improves healthy plants’ natural cold tolerance by approximately 2° to 9° F. It’s like moving your temperature zone 200 miles south! The biodegradable formula is designed to resist washing away by rain or snow and application lasts up to 4 weeks with normal precipitation. Freeze Pruf is very easy to apply and is safe for kids and pets.

To save cold-damaged palm tree you need to have a lot of patience. Don’t give up and remember that sometimes the damage is so severe, there is nothing you can do. By the end of spring you will have an idea weather you need to replace your palm.

palm book cold hardy Cold Damaged Palm Tree Care If you don’t live in the warm climate and still want to have beautiful palm trees in you backyard, you would love this book “Betrock’s Cold Hardy Palms.” Cold Damaged Palm Tree Care It has comprehensive profiles for 82 palm species capable of growing in climates colder than USDA Hardiness Zone 10, including 286 color photographs.

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21 Responses to “Cold Damaged Palm Tree Care”

  1. All our palm tree leaves this year have died and fallen off.
    However new shoots have appeared at the base and up some of the trunks. quite a few actually. What advice can you give me to to best help save the trees.

  2. hello,and thanks for taking my question .i am trying to grow a plam tree inside this is my second one .after trimming them they turnd brown and dry out can it be samed i took the first one back because i did’nt know if it could be saved .please help again thanks, pat

  3. it turned brown and can it be saved?

  4. Back in February in El Paso TX we had snow for several days (very uncommon) and most of our plants got frozen. I have one tall Palm tree and
    all the leaves are brown. I noticed that the palms on the streets or the malls are trimmed at least 50% of the tree.
    Will this help saving the palm trees?
    If not, can you give me some advice?

  5. Hi Lupita. You should cut the leaves only if they are dying. Don’t prune leaves with brown tips because palms use their nutrients for new growth. ~Susan Brian

  6. hi i have a palm tree think it got damaged by the bad weather we had most of the leaves are gone brown but at the end of the trunk there are green leaves growing again what should i do with it?thanks emma

  7. A few weeks ago, I discovered that my Mexican Fan Palm appeared to have bud rot… dark black fungus with white spores. I immediately applied Triple Action 20 by Consan. I’m hopeful it may live because it appears to be slowly sprouting new growth. The new growth is more purple in color instead of green though. Is this normal? I can’t find any information online about this strange color. Any info would be appreciated… Thank you!

  8. Hi Shannon. Fungus can be difficult to get rid off. Spray it with Copper Fungicide. I’ve found that Bonide Products Copper Fungicide works very well. The color can be due to a lot of stress. Give it few months to recover. ~Susan BRian

  9. Hello-We have several tall palm trees at each end of our home. After a bad freeze in the West Texas desert this year two of the tallest (20ft +) have not sprouted. The other six have. We had them trimmed back like we always do, but are we are afraid to lose them. At this time, the trees look like two giant toothpicks. What do you suggest we do. Beautiful trees please help. Surrounding neighbors have remove a couple of theirs, but we are hopeful since these are mature trees. What do you suggest? We have not done anything but trimmed and watered. Thanks!

  10. Hi could you give me some advice on new shoots growing ay the bottom of my palm, which has sufferd from the cold frosts.

  11. I live in Sebastian, Florida and I have three 6 year old foxtail palms that I am afraid got freeze damage this past winter. All of the fronds turned brown and when the new fronds started coming out we trimmed the trees however some of new fronds will not open. They look like spears. One of the trees only sprouted one new frond that did not open it grew really long and then broke off now no new fronds at all. The other two have fronds sprouting out and they are now opening but they seem to be stuck in the trunk of the trees the are only partially out of the trunk. The trees are watered regularly and they have good drainage. We waited until it warmed up to fertilize with palm fertilizer. Are the trees too damaged to save?

  12. Hi Yolanda. I wouldn’t trim them unless the leaves were completely brown and dry. Your palms are in shock and might not survive. Don’t fertilize them. Keep watering. There is very little you can do. ~Susan Brian

  13. I have a question reguarding a ‘Christmas Palm, as you already know, that we had a bad winter in S.W Florida.
    they are medium high (6′) I’ve grown these Palm from a seed, so I taken this to heart. One of my Palm has ‘bark roit’, still green and holding its palms, but I’m afraid its a slow killer for this one, do you have any suggestions on to save this tree?..and also how do I protect these Palm in the future winters

  14. Hi D.Perrin. Sorry to hear about your palms. I would say, spray it with Bonide Products Copper Fungicide to protect from bacterial and fungal infections. When the winter comes, spray it with FreezePruf to protect from farther cold damage. BTW I wrote an article about palm cold protection. There is very little you can do to help to speed up the recovery. ~Susan Brian

  15. My Washingtonian palm suffered from a severe cold spell about 3 yrs ago. Each year it has improved, but, the fronds “DO NOT” fully open at the ends (approx 4-5) feet. They have good color, but just won’t open. What is the problem, and what is the cure?

  16. please help me. I have beautiful palm its leaves were thin and looked feathered. This winter it went below 32 and the leaves died.. It was left with a pod were the leaves come out. It is summer already and it has not bloomed. the trunk still looks green.

  17. I have a 2 yr old green Malayan dwarf coconut in Brownsville, TX. We have not had a freeze, but twice this winter we have had around 4 days straight of temps ranging from highs of about 42 to lows of about 37 with drizzle. A frond that was already emerging nice and green has continued to emerge, but the lower part is now whitish in color with brown spots. I new shoot is also emerging with little to no green and a lot of brown. I have put copper fungicide twice, but I don’t know what the proper ratio to water is. Is there anything else I can do? Should I continue with the fungicide? For how long and at what ratio to water?

  18. Dear, Susan
    Where to start. I adopted my young coconut palm back in July of this year. Placed him in a 20″ container and enjoyed watching him grow and be happy. Everyday, i love to admire him, talk to him and tell him how much he is loved. During summer, I watered twice a day. Come Fall, once a day. Good drainage and good light.
    Recently we have been having a very chilly winter. I’ve protected him with wrapping his trunk in towels and added Christmas lights when it got to be in the 30′s (37 to be exact).
    In the last week, his fronds have been closing up and he’s been leaning considerably. I contacted a botonist and he suggested spraying with copper fungicide, which i did. Later that day i noticed he was leaning more. I then noticed his middle section was very weak, but still very green. I staked him up to straighten and support his crown.
    I don’t know how often you check these comments, but could you please respond and give me anymore advice on how to help him through. I love him, and all of my plants very much

  19. Continued from David B. in St. Petersburg, FL.
    Regarding my coconut palm.

    …and want to do anything I can to help him regain his health. I know Mark (the name I gave him) is a living, breathing, aware being and I treat him and all my other plants with that respect. Any advice from you would be greatly appreciated. Thank you so very much for giving us this website to refer to and thank you so very much for your time.
    Sincerely, David B. and his coconut palm, Mark

  20. I live in south Louisiana. This past winter (2014) we had temps get low as 20 degrees. I did wrap my queen palms with burlap every time it got below freezing. Queen palms are about 12 to 15 feet tall and I’ve been having them for 3 years. After the freezes I’ve removed the burlap. The fronds on the 3 palms are of course brown. How do I know if my trees are dead or not? How long do I need to wait for new fronds? Does burlap really help?


  21. Hello. My beautiful pindo palm that I have had for 4 years died due to the severe winter we had this year in NC. I thought there was some hope since a few of the branches still have some green but it wasn’t until I just pulled out the center bud that it was confirmed. Now there’s just a big hole in the center. Feel like I’ve lost a family member. Next time I will use liquid copper.

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